Kellen Moore stepped into the most pressure-packed job in town Wednesday afternoon when he was formally introduced as Boise State’s starting quarterback.
The redshirt freshman didn’t even break a sweat. Don’t think his heart increased a single beat.The kid is cool whether he’s being pressured by defensive linemen or facing the cameras and a press conference that was broadcast live by two local TV stations. His expression rarely changes whether he just threw an interception or a touchdown.
A pretty good quality for a quarterback to have — no matter how old he is.
“He’s been exactly the same since the day he got here,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “I wish I was more like that.”
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Nothing has rattled the 20-year-old left-hander from Prosser, Wash., from the moment he arrived on campus.
“He’s shown to be an even-keel kid out there. He throws a pick, then drives down for a touchdown. That’s just kind of the reaction you’ve got to have,” offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin.
Sometimes you need to take his pulse to make sure he’s still breathing.
The difference in outward demeanor was one of the most distinguishing characteristics between Moore and Bush Hamdan, who finished runner-up in the quarterback battle. Hamdan wears his emotions on his sleeve, though the senior has done a better job this fall of controlling the ups and downs.
“I’ll get going a little during game day,” Moore promised. “You can’t get too amped up or too down from play to play. You’re going to screw up every once in awhile. You’ve just got to be ready to go for the next play.”
Don’t mistake that cool demeanor for complacency or contentment. Moore, who showcases a dry sense of humor, often flashes a sly, knowing smile — just something to let you know that he has got everything under control, that he’s one step ahead of everybody else.
Part of it comes from preparation, where Moore, a coach’s son, excels. Petersen said Moore has set new records for film study. “He’s a football junkie,” Harsin said.
That kind of confidence is just another of the intangibles that Petersen and Harsin pointed to as reasons for selecting Moore to be the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener in school history.
And one reason no one seems concerned that Moore, from small town Prosser (pop. 5,121 in 2006), is stepping onto a much, much larger stage. Though, having seen the Ian Johnson story explode, the Broncos have placed strict controls on the media’s access to Moore (he will be available on game days only).
“It’s still the same dimensions. It’s still 11-on-11,” said Moore, who guessed that the Spring Game was the largest crowd he had ever played football in front of. “Once you’re out there, you’re just playing football again.”
That part has never been a problem. Moore rewrote the Washington record book in high school. He impressed Boise State coaches at a summer camp and quickly showed an aptitude on scout team. Petersen and Harsin heaped praise on him, talking in glowing terms about their new starter. I cannot recall them being so effusive about any other offensive player in three seasons as head coach and offensive coordinator.
“He’s got a little Brett Favre in him,” Petersen said of Moore’s attempts to put the ball in tight spaces on the field. “Brett Favre gets those in there, and he will, too.”
Favre, too, has that knowing smile. And that ability to bounce back from bad plays without it affecting the next one. Maybe one day, Moore will be as expressive as Favre.
For now, however, the Broncos’ starting quarterback is playing it cool.
And it suits him perfectly.